Position Of Faders In The Signal Chain

This is both a question and a suggestion. I was thinking of this when I was mixing a track and kept adding gainers to each track because the faders didn’t work the way I would like them to work.

The mixer in Renoise, with its Pre and Post faders is unlike any mixer (hardware or software) that I’ve seen. In traditional mixers the inserts are usually placed before, and the sends behind the fader. Software mixers either follow this design, or let you choose where to place each effect with respect to fader. The latter is, in my opinion, the best solution, and I was wondering why Renoise doesn’t use this design.

Of course, you can place a gainer anywhere in the signal path, and that works fine. The issue I have with this, is that the gainer is less accessible than the faders, especially when you use many effects and the mixer gets cluttered.

I was wondering if the current signal path has any real advantages over a signal path with only one fader, where effects can be placed before or behind it. Sure, the Renoise mixer allows you control the input levels to any effect, but most effects where input levels are important already have an input level control. And if needed you could always use a gainer for that.

Maybe it is a matter of personal taste, but I would strongly prefer a mixer with only one fader, where effects could be placed before or after it. I was wondering if (and why) others think the current mixer is preferable.

Current layout much more preferable in my opinion. Think of it as a modular channel strip. Pre-fader is the Gain you find on every knob. Then you can add EQ in the middle, as you find on normal desks, Sends which are like Aux busses plus any other kind of effect you may want then the Post gain is like your normal channel fader.

Plus it would cause too much difficulty with loading old songs or you would have to be able to operate in either manner.

Disagree. Remember you don’t need to have Sends with Mute Source on. You need to be able to put them anywhere in the chain so that you can send a signal to an effects chain then add more DSPs on the current chain. It is the one device that maybe you should be able to place after the Post fader but you should be able to live with using it’s Send Amount fader.

Thanks for the replies. I get the feeling I’m missing something, though.

Agreed on the compatibility issue. But I really don’t see what you can achieve in your example that you couldn’t achieve with one fader. What is the point, in a digital signal path, in placing a gain stage before an EQ (or a chorus, or a phaser)?

This is in fact what brought the issue up. If you have a compressor or a distortion and you want to change the volume, but not the sound of a channel, you can use the post fader. If you have send devices, you can use the pre fader. But what if you have both? If you want to change the volume without changing the sound, you can’t use the faders, or you will have to adjust at least one other parameter. (I guess I should have written this in my original post…)

Exactly. Hence my suggestion.

There is good reason to have a pre-gain. You want to set the level at the start of a signal chain. Admittedly all instrument and samples allow you to set their levels separately though but still it is useful and generally expected. Just because the 23bit floating point of Renoise means actual clipping is nigh on impossible doesn’t mean all effects operate in 23bit floating point and many effects, most notably compression and distortion types, sound very different depending on the level going into them (although they usually have an input level slider.)

Really both pre and post should be automatable and I would of thought if only one was going to be it would be the Post fader, as this is what you would usually adjust on a real desk. The fact Pre is and Post isn’t in Renoise I find very weird and would think it something that would be far better addressed!

Thinking about this some more, I guess another option would be to have a “post fader” option in the send device. That shouldn’t give compatibility issues.

But that is why compressors and distortion and the like have controls like Gain, Drive, Threshold etc.

And the pre fader only gives you +3dB max. That is hardly going to help if your signal is weak. In practice, when I find that my source is too weak, I have to use a gainer, because the fader doesn’t boost the signal enough.

Anyway, I’m getting the feeling that this is more a matter of taste, really. I’m not saying that what I suggested is better, but it would fit my way of working better. I guess my priorities are different from yours.

You do know you have another +12dB in Instrument Setting and this is where most of your settings of level for each sound should be done anyway? I actually personally almost never touch the Pre-Gain. But the idea of having a Fader in the middle of a channel is just quite bizarre (to be polite) in my opinion!

The idea of having a post-fader sends has come up before and as I say above that I understand and agree with. But if it’s only or Sends why are you trying to change things so much to such a weird concept that has absolutely zero to do with any hardware, which you started waxing lyrical about at the start even though your idea is far more removed from that than the current way of working?

EDIT: 12dB not 21

I agree the post-faders of tracks containing sends (and in which you use the mute source option) could be greyed out or disabled, to rule out confusion matters.
But if the “keep source” is on, the post faders definately may have a function.

I am not waxing lyrical about anything, I just described a few common alternatives for a mixer’s signal path. In fact, my preferred solution is, as I wrote in my first post, one that would be quite difficult to implement in hardware. You may call it bizarre, but I’ve encountered it software before (Tracktion is the example that comes to mind), and it felt much more natural to me than the way Renoise handles it. What I find a bit strange is the fact that if I want sends to work as they do in other mixers, I have to add a gainer to each track with a send, so that each track ends up with three separate gain controls, whereas in other mixers I usually get by with one.

And yes, the sends are the reason I brought it up, or rather the situation where you have a combination of compressors/distortions/etc and sends. I really think it is important to have separated pre- and post- fader effects. Apparently, that is not important to you, but it is to me. You say you find automation of post faders more important, but to me that would be almost useless without the option to place a send after the fader. For example, if you used it to fade out a track with a reverb send, you would still hear the reverb at same level after the fade-out. For me, this is a very common situation.

There is a reason why most mixers (hard or soft) offer post-fader sends, and to me personally, that really feels like something that is missing from Renoise. I realize that the majority of users probably like the mixer the way it is, and I don’t expect it to change radically, but I definitely think it is worth discussing. That is why I brought this up as both a suggestion and a question. To be honest, I still don’t see the advantage of the current mixer setup (you say yourself that you almost never touch the pre gain), but if that is how most people like it, I respect that.

How many times do I have to say I agree there should be a way of have Sends after the Post Fader before you understand that I agree there should be a way of having Sends after the Post Fader?!!?!?!

And I said I would of thought that Post Fader would be more important the per automatable than Pre-Gain as this is what you usually adjust when doing mixes and thus it seems strange it’s the other way around currently. Nothing about that being more important than changing how you can use the Sends!

Why do you feel you need to always be adding a Gainer when the Sends have a Send Amount? Although if you Keep Source I think you would have to because you can’t automate the Post-Fader anyway so you would have to even if not using a Send Device.

I still say the current set-up makes perfect sense for something that is approaching a semi-modular routing environment. Being able to put Sends after the Post Fader would benefit even more from being able to automate this fader, although I can see how it could help with mix-downs as it is.

Although I have to be honest and I very, very rarely touch either the Post or the Pre Gains, doing all my level balancing in Instrument Settings as much as possible. Think Pre-Gain mainly comes useful if you are using multiple Instruments within on Track, so once you have the Instruments level balanced to each other you may want to adjust the overall level of them before effects.

If anything Renoise should go more modular and everything should be automatable ;)

But if you like the idea of a Track having a fader in the middle and the option to put effects either side of it why not have you default track configuration always having a Gainer loaded, then you can put whatever you want whichever side of the Gainer Device :P

(If anything comes across as a bit sharp or tetchy I apologise, at work and had very little sleep last few days. Going out raving then straight into work for 0730 isn’t too good for the grey matter.)

The sends will never end up behind the post faders.
The post faders are designed to be the static end-mix tool. They will never be automatable for that reason either.
Use the sends to automate or the gainer. Regarding the post-faders:in most tactical way of speaking:you should simply ignore the post faders as like they never existed, unless you need to tweak a static amplification level of a track or send-track and then it should come to your mind that for these situation, the post fader is there to the rescue.
They are not meant for dynamic toying around, only minor static tweaking.

You have to admit it’s kinda strange in that it’s the exact opposite of a real desk where the pre-gain will be set and never touched again but you might be riding multiple faders throughout when mixing down a track. (Not trying to put as argument that is should/must be changed, just that when coming from a real world environment it could seem a little arse about face.)

Some kind of GUI tweak where you can add a Gainer and tell Renoise to treat this as the Main Channel Fader (rather than Pre-Gain maybe, which would still be accessible through DSP??) could be a way to make everybody a bit happier. This was it would be instantly accessible and more easily viewable in the Mixer view and allow devices either side of it. May just seem a little confusing to a lot of people though…

(Edited quote)

maybe a third option in addtion to “pre” and “post”, “custom” or something… and for that, the option to use pre-gain, post-gain OR any gainer in the chain. that way you could set it to what makes most sense for each track.

also, the track scopes for tracks where the last send does have mute source enable should be dimmed or something!

(and maybe even be drawn according to the “send amount” of that send device, instead of the post-gain that doesn’t have any effect?)

Perhaps it is not usual, i myself never were a mixing engineer so i have no real life concept of these things in generic.
You could also image Post faders as “Pre-gain” and read from right to left.
I’m sure Arabic and Japanese can work with this imagination pretty swell :)

I should probably stop now as it’s not likely to get changed but:

You do read the occasional music hardware magazine or reviews yeah? Or have done over the last 10 years or so? Heard of digital mixers? How many have you know make a statement about motorised faders being automatiable compared to making a statement about having automatable gain pots? Surely you can remember which buzz-words you’ve picked up even if you don’t do much in the way or hardware desk mixing yourself.

I know the rest was meant to be a funny but you can read right to left as much as you want, it’s not going to help you or change things if the signal is still going left to right.

Don’t worry, I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my question! I can certainly see why you don’t want it to change, and I’m fine with the fact that it won’t.

And yeah, re-reading my response, I see that it looks like I was trying to convince you of the need of post-fader sends. What I actually meant, was to explain why my suggestion, which seems bizarre to you, seems intuitive to me, but I admit I could have done that better.

And good call on placing gainers on every track in the default song. In fact, I already did that before reading your response!

Thanks for clearing that up!

No, it won’t, the word “end-mix” explains the purpose sufficiently that you can disregard the last remark in every concept.
It’s not up to me to make changes, i only summarize conclusions from various discussions that i followed around the post faders, as well internally as with user-feedback during the Beta when they got introduced.

The only problem I can see is that you can’t automate the post-fader. Being able to do that instead of chucking another Gainer on the end of a long DSP chain would be neato. Still, the current setup doesn’t limit you in any way.

there is something wrong with the renoise mixer for sure - sends.
eveything can be as it is now but with one exception - ability to have sends as the last thing in a channel strip!

i think someone was trying to reinvent a wheel here and it’s an elipse now ;)

the only thing we need is an additional checkbox in a send device - “post fader” next to the “keep source” and “mute source”